The Kansas City chapter of the National Black United Front is hosting their 40th annual City-Wide Kwanzaa Celebration Dec. 26-31 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Each night will celebrate one of the principles of Kwanzaa with a candle-lighting: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective work and responsibility), Ujama (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kumba (creativity), Imani (faith).

“This year is special because we are coming together as a community to uplift one another,” said Jawanza Hardy, lead organizer of this year’s Kwanzaa celebration. “Despite the obstacles of the pandemic and despite the financial strains that come from it, we still recognize the value of one another and the value of coming together as a community.”

The first six nights will be held at the Gem Theater, 1615 E 18th St., KCMO. Each night will have more than 20 vendors available in the theater’s lobby.

Dec. 26 Umoja (Unity) will include performance from the Traditional Music Society and the recognition of the Charles Miller award, which is awarded to a community leader who exemplifies one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. KC NBUF will also be celebrating their 40th anniversary this night.

Dec. 27 Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) will include spoken word, a presentation from Brothers Liberating Our Communities (BLOC) and KC NBUF’s youth mentoring program, Simbanafalami, will recognize the young people in the program transitioning into adulthood.

“The young people in the program have successfully learned all the things that it takes to be a productive member in our community and we feel at this point that they’re ready to walk into adulthood,” Hardy said.

Dec. 28 Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) will include a dance performance by the KC Friends of Alvin Ailey.

Dec. 29 Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) will feature a business panel focused on the importance of closing the generational wealth gap. Panelists include Roy Copeland, who will discuss insurance, realtor Tenesia Sanders, financial expert Michael Byrd, and entrepreneur Nadean Farris. There will also be a performance by Esoke Dance.

Dec. 30 Nia (Purpose) will include a performance by the youth orchestra A Flat.

Dec. 31 Kuumba (Creativity) will include a jazz performance from the American Jazz Museum.

Jan. 1, 2022 Imani (Faith) is the Karamu, the celebratory communal feast held at the Nefertiti Banquet Hall, 1314 Quindaro Blvd., KCK at 3 p.m.

Masks and social distancing are required.

“We deserve to celebrate our uniqueness,” Hardy said. “Kwanzaa is an opportunity for us to celebrate who we are and to be inspired to be more than what we are a lot of times restricted to be.”

“It’s definitely a celebration people won’t want to miss it,” he said.

There is also a chance to celebrate virtually here: or

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Jazzlyn Johnson

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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